Insights Mobile UK calls on next government to invest in mobile infrastructure


Mobile UK, the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators, has published a manifesto calling on the next government to implement a series of reforms to stimulate investment in mobile infrastructure.

The manifesto points out that, despite £2 billion of annual investment in mobile connectivity and 5G deployment, the Digital Connectivity Forum estimates that a further £25 billion is required if the UK is to meet the increasing mobile demand, make the most of the opportunities of 5G, and remain a leading digital economy. It argues that “investment in mobile infrastructure comes almost exclusively from private capital and so significant changes in the operators’ investment environment are needed if this gap is to be closed”. The manifesto therefore calls on the government to implement a ‘first 100 day plan’ to boost investment in mobile connectivity, including the following five headline points:

  1. Overhaul the planning system so that it is adequately resourced and able to deliver the rapid rollout of mobile networks to support economic growth.
  1. Reform the radio spectrum tax so that mobile operators can retain funds for investment in improved network capacity and coverage.
  1. Centrally fund local authority Digital Champions to make them more effective at digitising public services and promoting the rollout of digital infrastructure.
  1. Reform network traffic management regulations to boost service and tariff innovation.
  1. Offer business rates relief on new mobile infrastructure to encourage investment in its construction and increase digital inclusion.

Commenting on the launch of the manifesto, Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive of Mobile UK, said “In recent years, the mobile sector has been squeezed by falling revenues (which are one third below what they were 10 years ago), increasing data traffic (which has risen 20 times in the last 10 years), and pressures on costs (for example mobile networks are high users of electricity). We call on the Government to look to the UK’s best interests by ensuring the sector has the capacity to invest fully in the mobile connectivity needed to spark growth across the UK’s economy.”

The manifesto can be read in full here.